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Just One Destiny

By:Jade Winters

chines and a Marvel figurine collection shop that had a life-size figure of Superman on display in the front window. What wasn’t advertised was the fact the owner sold pirate adult DVDs from under the counter.

Carissa entered her building and pressed the button for the lift. The button failed to illuminate to indicate it was on its way down.

‘Come on!’ she cursed as she pressed the button again.

‘I wouldn’t bother. It’s out of order.’ Dean, her six-feet tall neighbour startled her.

‘Again?’

‘’Fraid so. Mike from maintenance came this morning,’ Dean continued. ‘He said he’d have it fixed in three days.’

‘Knowing him, it’ll probably be six,’ Carissa said, rolling her eyes.

Dean shrugged nonchalantly. Carissa nodded goodbye and started on the three flights of stairs it took to reach her flat. The moment she reached her floor, she knew that Lara was out of bed as meditation music sounded through the door. Carissa inserted her key in the lock and attempted to turn it right. The key remained static. Great, just what I need.

‘Lara,’ Carissa shouted. ‘Can you open the door, please? My key’s jammed again.’

It took a few more calls for Lara to answer the door, and when she did her face was drawn and her eyes looked everywhere but at Carissa. Assuming Lara was still annoyed because she had left that morning, Carissa let out a frustrated breath as she wiggled the key in the lock then pulled it out.

‘I didn’t expect you back so soon,’ Lara said, taking a bag of shopping from Carissa.

‘Neither did I. My interview was cancelled and no one bothered to tell me. Anyway, we’ve got food and wine.’

Carissa stepped over the threshold and stopped short when she realised there were two small suitcases sitting in the middle of the minuscule space between the kitchen and the sofa. She pulled off her coat, tossed it on the chair and turned to Lara.

‘Why are the suitcases out?’ she asked in confusion.

‘I’m leaving.’

‘Leaving?’ Carissa repeated. ‘On a business meeting? Oh no. I hope we’ve got time—’

‘It’s not ….’ Lara looked distinctly uncomfortable and Carissa was starting to get the feeling that she was missing something.

‘It’s not what, Lara?’ Carissa pushed. Adrenaline pricked her skin. She sensed whatever Lara said next would pull the rug from beneath her world.

Lara set the shopping bag down on the dining table and turned to Carissa. ‘It’s not a business meeting,’ she said. ‘I’m going to India.’

Her words landed like a punch in the gut. ‘Excuse me … you’re going where?’

‘India. To live in a communal retreat. The truth is, I haven’t been happy for a long time,’ she continued, in a voice that cried out for understanding. ‘I feel stifled and claustrophobic here. I need to get out of London. I need to find myself.’

‘What the hell are you on about?’ Carissa demanded, feeling as though she had stepped into the twilight zone. ‘What about your job?’ And me?

‘I quit.’

‘You quit?’

‘It wasn’t working out for me.’ Lara rubbed the back of her neck. ‘I wasn’t happy there, you know that.’

‘No, what I do know is that you barely gave it a shot.’

‘Are you kidding? I wasted five months of my life working for those wankers,’ Lara went on. ‘Well, not anymore. I’m done with this nine-to-five rat race.’

Carissa swallowed painfully when she realised that the apartment had been emptied of Lara’s belongings. Her walking boots were no longer by the door next to Carissa’s. Her Eckhart Tolle books were absent from the coffee table and all her clothes that were usually strewn carelessly about the apartment had been magically cleared away.

Carissa looked at the suitcases that stood between them. Lara had packed up her life without a thought as to how it would affect Carissa. She hadn’t even bothered to give her time to process her devastating decision. Lara had sprung it on her as though she were merely an afterthought.

‘You’re really leaving?’ Carissa asked in a strained voice as she envisaged a life without Lara.

‘Yes.’

Bile and fear rose in Carissa’s throat and she quickly swallowed it down. She felt dizzy. Disorientated. Like she had stood up too quickly. ‘And you’re going to India?’

‘Yes.’

‘Were you even going to tell me?’ Carissa asked, fighting back the tears welling in her eyes. The reality of the situation was finally beginning to sink in. ‘Or were you planning on leaving me with the memory of having my nipple frozen by an ice cube?’

‘I … of course I was going to tell you. I wasn’t going to just sneak out,’ Lara said, her voice faltering a little as she picked at a stray thread hanging from her shirt. ‘I do love you, Carissa, but it’s not enough. I want more.’

Anger threatened to choke her. ‘More?’

‘Yes, more. Look at people our age. They’re living the dream. Working in jobs they love—’

‘Jesus, Lara, the way you’re talking you’d think we didn’t have a lifetime ahead of us to do all those things.’

‘I don’t want to take things for granted. Look what happened to my mum. Always making plans about what she was going to do “one day”. But that day never came for her, did it? She died before she could do anything. Well, that’s not going to happen to me.’

Carissa roughly wiped away a single tear drop that rolled down her cheek. In her mind, she was screaming, but the only sound emitted from her mouth was a pitiful whine. It was as if she was out of her body, floating above herself, watching the interaction happen between two other people—another couple, in someone else’s flat. But the packed case told her that she wasn’t a spectator. The interaction was between Lara and herself. About their relationship. ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this.’

‘Come on, Carissa. I don’t want to hurt you. I thought you’d understand my need to do what’s right for me.’ Lara took a step towards her, arms outstretched as if she believed that Carissa would run straight into them. Carissa stepped back. The only thing she wanted to do was to hurl her

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